Thursday, November 5, 2009

Young Guns Set the Trail Ablaze

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Meet four new up and coming business prospects – Eric Soo, Lee Kean Boon, Aurelia Tiam, and Jeremy Lee , all of whom who are twenty years of age bar Aurelia who is nineteen. They are the four co-founders of a company called Fitness in Training which has risen to prominence after advancing to the final round of the inaugural Young Entrepreneur Startup (YES) Challenge.

How did it all start? On one fateful day, they were in their lecture hall and there was an announcement regarding the YES Challenge. Jeremy and Kean Boon were next to one another and they decided at once to join the challenge. However, there had to be four to a group. They turned around and saw Aurelia, who was looking for team-mates. Then, Eric was walking by and he said he wanted to join the group as he too was searching for team-members. The end product was inevitably something that somewhat just conjured up at the spur of the moment. Eric summed it all up by saying, “It was rather random and coincidental”.

After that, they went to the drawing board to prepare blueprints for their company. In the beginning, their idea was to set-up a company dealing with new designs on banners that people were using. However, this idea of theirs was blatantly rejected.

Thereafter, they ran short of ideas, but yet they did not lose heart over the challenge. They were bent to take part in it. Just when all avenues seemed to be leading to a dead-end, light at the end of the tunnel appeared. Eric, rather dubiously, said that a thought struck him when he was bathing. He saw a problem. His tummy was as big as it could get, and he realised that, that could be the focal point of their business.

The fact is that too many teenagers and young adults do not give two hoots about their well being, especially in terms of their body weight. They care not to exercise. This, in turn, served as a catalyst for the four budding entrepreneurs who at once subscribed to Eric’s idea. Thus, the company Fitness in Training was conceived.

The primary objective of the company revolves around providing children between the ages of eight to 18 years the chance to experience holistic exercise of the physical, mental, social and emotional self through the organising of four day three night camps. This would lead to those who participate in the camps to come out a healthier person in every aspect.

When asked on whether were they already business-literate or greenhorns learning their ropes around in the field when they first started out, their unanimous answer was, “We were definitely learning our ropes around. Although we are business students, what we learn in theory is generally out-dated and hence we have to think on our feet when running this company.”

Proceeding to their experience of the YES Challenge, they opined it made them better individuals. Aurelia said, “Before, I was quite reserved. But after coming on board, the YES Challenge taught me to be more articulate. It also improved my communications skills, besides helping me to discipline myself.”

Eric echoed her sentiments, saying, “The YES Challenge provided me with the opportunity to make real friends in addition to supplying endless networking opportunities.” Kean Boon was more philosophical. He said, “It has helped me to open my eyes to a lot of things in life. Importantly, this has given me the platform to own my own venture some day.”

So, how did they manage to secure a lump-sum of RM 7750 through the YES Challenge to bankroll their business? Case study shows that obesity and overweight are two major problems, no thanks to the influence of the television and gaming consoles. Therefore, they managed to present their business idea in a commanding fashion before the panel of judges that presided over the finals. They convinced the judges that obesity and overweight are prevalent in Malaysia, and that they could do something to initiate change via their company, Fitness in Training.

No doubt they have made it big in terms of their business, but do not forget that they are also studying at the same time. It is some feat to be able to juggle their time efficiently in studying as well as managing their business. To those who suffer from time mismanagement, Eric has this piece of advice. “Learn how to set priorities. Do things that are important, not those that are urgent as most of the time, urgent things turn out to be unimportant.”

Aurelia, an avid fan of the Late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and an admirer of Sir Richard Branson, added that they would usually commit more time to their business when they were on a holiday, but come the exam season, their focus would be on their studies. Furthermore, having to do more in a lesser time frame prompted them to pay more attention in class so as to make up for their loss of studying time as a result of having to manage their business.

On a higher note, Kean Boon insists that the time is now. He says that you never know when an opportunity would come by again, so the best thing to do is to nick it when it is within your grasp. Moreover, he holds high regards for Tun Dr. Mahathir and Steve Jobs, and hopes to emulate them. His inspiration – “Things that you think are impossible are actually possible for there are no limits. The limits are all in your mind”.

Coming back to the discussion of the first Fitness in Training camp that is planned to be held in mid-December, they hope that this would get youngsters excited to live healthily. In addition to that, they want to empower youngsters to know that they have a choice – that is they can choose to live healthily. A host of exciting events are lined up, and there would be sessions ranging from physical workouts to nutrition classes to mental and emotional healthcare, all to be conducted by renowned professionals.

Currently, the planning is in the consolidating phase. They have most of the issues ironed out, and are planning to confirm the venue sometime soon. One pressing issue they hope would be part of history when the camp finishes is that they want youngsters who have no confidence to fit in socially to do so via the many exercising activities lined up for them.

In short, watch out for Fitness in Training and the brains behind this company as they are sure to make waves in the country. They are, after all, the face of tomorrow’s business leaders.

*This is an article that I had written for New Straits Times and a revised version of this has been published in the Niexter pullout dated 5th Nov. 2009.
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